You know how sometimes you just can’t find something, but you are sure it is somewhere safe.
When I walked to Stoodley Pike a couple of weeks ago, I had my trusty walking staff with me, When I walked the Standedge Trail, I didn’t, because it was lost. Standedge was the first walk since Stoodley that I was wanting to take Keira with me, so I was a bit cross that I couldn’t find her.
Well, the perils of drink have come become clear. I remember having a pint after my walk, so on a hunch, I called the White House Pub, which is by Blackstone edge reservoir.
She is there. The little minx has been having a two week holiday in the pub, propping up the bar.
I will drive over this evening and be re-united.
At least that is one mystery solved. Now where did I leave Suzi’s keys?
This wonderful walk seems to be one which the National Trust don’t have a leaflet for, so I set off with map and compass to create my own take on this historic trail.
11.5 miles, with over 2000 feet of ascent
Duration 4hrs+ (allow 5hrs)
Dog Friendly, but you need to use a lead in certain areas
No facilities on route, but cafe at start and Pub at apx 1/2 way
Stout Boots are required
Route Crosses a Ford – in winter this can be deeper than boots
You require two OS maps to cover the whole route
Starting off at the National Trust Barn by Marsden Train station, you can park you car for free, always my preferred option, so that is where Suzi got left.
Leaving the car park and heading down the hill, you are almost immediately given a choice. The road to the Right heads towards St.Bartholemew’s, the pretty Parish church of Marsden, or head along the main road to one of the café’s.
On this occasion, I diverted from the true path, and went for a bacon butty.
If you are led by tummy, you need to back track, or head up to the A62 to get back on the Standedge Trail, not difficult as its still on tarmac.
Look for old mount road. Old Mount Road was originally an old turnpike road. Head uphill. It’s quite steep. As I was huffing up the hill, I found myself trying to imagine how this would have looked and felt when pack-horses were plodding up here, heads hung low, weary from the trek from Huddersfield, bags stuffed with wool or cotton bales from the mills. I was hot about the collar and I was only recently stuffed with breakfast. Still, as I got my old body up the hill, I was able to look down on Bank Bottom Mill, which was opened in 1824, and didn’t cease making woollen cloth until 2003. It looks such a benign building, but what horrors must have been seen inside in its lifetime?
Just over a mile into the walk, you will need to look for a footpath on the Right, The path is muddy, and as it nearly doubles back on itself after 50 yds it gets wetter, water flowing like a stream. My feet found most of the deep spots in this part stream, part footpath. It leads to a green lane, which the Standedge Trail follows until it meets another old turnpike, currently called Mount Road. When the barges sailed through the tunnel, the bargemen would push the heavy loads by laying on there backs and walking their feet along the ceiling. At the same time, the horses relieved from the job of pulling the barges, had to walk over the moor to meet the boats again at Diggle.
I diverted again from the set route, as I wanted to have a look at the old quarry workings. I believe that this was the area where a lot of the building material for the tunnels was quarried. Beneath my feet there is a tunnel for the canal, and a tunnel for the train, (completed in 1811 and 1848 respectively). The tunnels are hidden from view, but you are in no doubt as to where they are, as you can see the round air vents standing proud of the moor all along the route. There is another quarry on the other side of Pule Hill, which is bigger and has more evidence of its industrial past.
I enjoy meeting other people while I am out on these walks, and having left the beaten track and visited these old workings, I was fortunate to meet Andy, James and Mark, three intrepid travellers, who I was informed by James, had already conquered the “big hill”. It is nice to see a new walker in the making, James is 6, Andy and Mark are at my end of the spectrum, being 51 and 59 respectively.
I get back on track, but for only a few yards as the trail appears to vanish over a cliff. Actually it doesn’t vanish, but winds down a steep cut to the ford at the bottom. Look for a standing stone as your waymarker.
This steep cut in the gully side continues up the opposite bank and leads you onto an area of wet and muddy flat ground. The Standedge Trail joins the Pennine way, and can see Redbrook reservoir shining in front of the ever present Pule Hill on your right. There is a ford to cross along this stretch, is it too romantic to imagine the tired horses getting a break to drink and get there breath back?
Does anyone else picture history in monochrome?
Keep going until you get to the car park at Brun Clough Reservoir and at the exit at the other side, take a left, watch your step, its slippy. This path heads down to get close to the vents, and I very nearly ended up on the wrong track again because I started daydreaming. In my minds eye, the decay of long years fell away from the house, and I tried to imagine its former glory.
Daydreaming aside, you need to head past the house a few yards, then drop down to the right. You pass one of the spoil heaps, still no grass on the steep slope after a hundred years and more. You are almost in Diggle, and if you are lucky the Diggle Hotel will be open for foaming glasses of local cask ale. Or it may not. It wasn’t.
The route on the OS Map shows the Standedge Trail turning right just before the Hotel, I would suggest that you stay on the main road and cross the road bridge over the railway. This adds maybe a hundred yards, but avoids a very dicey looking slope. Once over the bridge, I turned right to wade through the latest flood. I say wade, I skirted the edge ankle deep. This little detour is along an older road, and avoids a section of the main road, just to give a little change, I don’t always follow an exact path. Putting on my Zen hat, you could say, “you are only lost if, you care where you are”. Still, this is supposed to be a guide to the Standedge Trail, so back to it. If you have been good, and followed the map, you will be on the Huddersfield Road. If not, find a footpath which links to it from Ridge Road, where I was.
Heading uphill, I am being careful, as there is no pathway but fast moving traffic. I try and always be on the side of the road on which the cars will be going up, as I feel that gravity can help them brake if they see me late, a split second might count. Looking out for Dean Head Lane, you head down this little road and will find yourself enchanted by the smell of fresh pine and damp moss. I was 12 again, playing in the woods in Halifax, with dirty knees and mucky hands.
As you round the corner another gentle slope takes you to the A62, which is crossed carefully, onto yet more mud, but very soon you will be turning right to follow the tarmac in the direction East North East. A marked alternative is to head 50 yards downhill and then turn uphill along the original drovers path. This is the path I took, and was smiling to myself as I decided to make some notes for my “creative writing”. What I noted was the flags of fleece on barbed wire, waving in the wind like long forgotten bunting.
Make the most of the opportunity to romance, for when you reach the next turn (a left) you are heading to the Standedge, which shows here as a long prominent scar of millstone grit. And you are going to the top of it, albeit up a pass between bluffs. The wind, which has been around, but starting to be ignored, reminds you of its power. Stay away from the edge, it wants you off its hill. Most times I would assume its not this bad, but as I arrived I rendezvoused with Storm Ewan, Storm Doris’ little brother. You are not on top of the bluff for a long way, but be aware of the different paths, there are several meeting here. You need to be East North East which will take you back to the A62, left then Right brings you to the foot of Pule Hill. If you decide you want to climb up Pule Hill, go for it, its not on the Standedge Trail, but the views from the top are tremendous. Ewan was still with me as I reached the summit, to find I was not the only one who wanted to meet him.
There is a path heading North from the stanza stone at the summit, if you take it, and you want to get back to the Trail, you will risk life and limb down a steep hillside. I found myself thigh deep in stagnant water, twisting ankles all the way down. Far better to retrace your steps South and rejoin the marked route at the bottom.
Cross the A62 again and you need to go down a narrow dark ginnel. Possibly the steepest part of the walk, its certainly the slipperiest.
but at the bottom, wow. You will need to ford the river at the bottom, but that leads to Easter Bridge, which is very pretty.
Across the bridge a gentle stroll back to the visitor centre awaits. From here, after a brief stop for refreshment ( I highly recommend the Blueberry tea) the last stretch along the Standedge Trail is the canal tow path, 10 minutes walk on the flat and you will see the first (last?) lock on the Huddersfield side of the Pennines. You are back where you started from, 4 or 5 hours ago, a bit tired, but I hope very satisfied.
I would like to be better at writing, to be able to engage a reader, by creating a picture through description. I am, however one of many who missed the opportunity to learn creative writing skills at school. Being a firm believer that it is never too late to learn, I have signed up for a free course with the OU
I had no idea that it is so hard to “write what you know”. First exercise; describe in 150 words the room you are in (i’m paraphrasing, there is a little more to this exercise). Here is my attempt, unedited, I’m quite pleased.
The room is quite large, with a prominent chimney breast, papered with a floral design. The walls are a dull green, livened up by groups of prints in wooden frames. In the hearth, the last log sputters a small flame, just enough to warm the bones of an old cat laying prostrate, feet crossed in front of it. To the left of the fire, a tired armchair waits for its owner to return with her tea, a half open laptop perched on the arm, and a discarded book by its feet. A log tossed into the fire stirs new flames, the crackle echoing the sound of hard soled slippers on the oak floor. To the right, a sideboard supports an old valve radio, its top festooned with the ornaments of a happy couple. Above the fire, the television is a window to a life of adventure the old man watching may never see.
I had to resist the temptation to rewrite parts, and copy this straight from my notepad. Kate said that she thought it was good for a first attempt, and for me, that is praise enough.
Yesterday was quite a day. Storm Doris caused a bit of stir. Such a fuss, and I was contacted by a local newspaper, who wanted to put my short video on their website. If we all get 15 minutes of fame, I have 14 minutes and 51 seconds still to go, the video is a 9 second clip (please, no more autographs!)
This morning was a different world. Full of the joys of the spring to come I left for work. With the sun shining, car windscreens deeply frosted, and the air very still, it made you feel glad to be alive. Feeling in such a chipper mood, I set off will wings on my feet. Minutes into the walk, I get a text. “Thas getten thisen in’t paper, lad” my very Yorkshire pal wrote. (translation- you are in the local rag). There I am, page 7.
Of course, this new celebrity status went straight to my head, and I decided to have a live podcast. Both viewers thought it went well 😉
To celebrate, Lily Virg and Phoebe are coming for tea, and the outlaws are coming too. Celebrity or not, I’m still doing the cooking.
For today’s walk set off from Marsh
then headed down into Milnsbridge. Just for fun, I let the facebook group choose my route. Of course uphill is much funnier than downhill, so up I went. Great views from up Blackmoorfoot road, so maybe it was a good idea.
Walking through Butternab Spring and Beaumont park was idyllic. Birds singing away, really peaceful and calm. I had photographs taken in Beaumont Park on my wedding day 15 years ago, this is the first time I have been back since. I don’t know why, its beautiful. Maybe I can persuade Kate to come back for a walk there with me.
Its been a long week, but an enjoyable one, I am undecided whether to continue making the daily montages of photos, or reduce it to perhaps weekly. Anyway, we will see. Here is today’s PhotoVid
At lunchtime, I will be at the tower again. That will be 5 days in a row at Huddersfield’s Castle Hill. Surely it is doing something for my fitness?
I have been thinking about how to write this blog. Am I alone in having a conversation going on inside my own head? Should I just blog that conversation?
This morning, on the way to work, I thought I might record my thoughts on a voice recorder, and then listen as I write the post. I am listening to the ramblings of a mad man.
It is an awkward thing to hear yourself as others hear you, perhaps even stranger than seeing yourself on video. Worse, you look mad talking to yourself, although on the canal bank there are very few people to see.
Last night I discovered that the Misfit step counter doesn’t give an accurate distance. I’m not sure if I am annoyed or happy. I guess its a bit of both. Annoyed that a piece of equipment isn’t as accurate as you need (its out by about 40%), but happy that I actually managed 14 miles yesterday not the recorded 10 miles. Step count seems to be very close to reality, not sure why it thinks I have the stride of a short arse.
It doesn’t really matter, so I will just keep in mind that I am doing more than it says.
Back to today’s walk. I left Marsh and headed down into Milnsbridge, then joined the canal to Aspley. At one point I was joined by a random pair of Alsatians.
No owners, but they seemed friendly. One had a tag, “Ruby” and a number. No answer, from the phone, and the dogs kept looking over a wall to a big drop. “Oh No”, I thought, “It’s one of those Lassie Movie moments”. Thankfully there was no broken body ‘in the well’ or on the river bank, and I left Ruby and her friend to their fun. The owner rang back shortly after, looking for two lost dogs, and I pointed her to the bridge where they were, hopefully to be re-united.
Its peaceful on the canal towpath, most of this walk is accompanied by birdsong, and little traffic noise disturbs the tranquility.
It seems a small thing to decide, but it changes everything. Before deciding the date it was going to happen sometime, and that was okay, kind of woolly, no pressure. Now, well now I realise I need to plan a whole lot more carefully. I need to prepare. Mentally, Physically, Financially and Materially.
So now I am getting myself organised, and will flesh out the bare bones of a plan that I have so far over the next 11 weeks. 11 weeks! heck!
The plan as it stands;
Daily Distance – apx 20miles
Overnight -Wild Camping
Carry – Up to 18 Kg (about 40 pounds)
( I told you it was basic)
Now on to my 4 To Do lists
Physical To Do over next 3-4 weeks
Up daily walking to 10 miles 5 days a week
Up Weekend walking to 15 miles minimum
Increase pack weight to 10 Kg
Financial To Do over next 3-4 weeks
Keep saving up (waterproof fivers!) aim to have £500 by end of March
Upgrade Bank card to contactless
Material To Do over next 3-4 weeks
Create a detailed list of what I will need
Check off against the list as each item is tested in the field
Mental To Do
Research the route
Research points of interest near the route
Get familiar with the plan
Get familiar with the gear
I think that the main focus for the next week will be increasing my fitness, (10 miles is 20,000 steps) and spending some time getting the route detailed.
The maps arrived this morning, Its a start.
“A journey of a thousand miles starts with the first step”
In my case the journey of 268 miles starts with 20,00 steps a day for 4 weeks! There may be some moaning about bloomin’ outdated Chinese proverbs to come before I set off
0. In a village called Horton – in – Ribblesdale. Stood in a field. 6:30am. The grass a vivid green in the low contrast of a dull morning. Milling around a caravan, a group of men putting up a blue flag.
This is where I found myself on Saturday, nervously waiting to walk the Yorkshire Three Peaks.
6:45 Mallinson Number 18, ready? Yes. Off you go
1. Leave the tent, scuff your boots on the ruts leaving the field, and cross the road. A wooden bridge over the Ribble takes you past the toilet block. A crowd of hikers waiting for the Pen-y-Ghent Cafe to open, I quickly scribble my details on a scrap of paper, Mallinson; 06:50; parked by the crown; 0795blah di blah. Push the scrap through the letterbox and grin at the Hiker who says “Can you do that? I’ve been waiting 30 minutes for it to open”
2. Cross over the road to a gate into a field. Jostled for position by the spaniels with more energy than anyone else. Feeling a bit chilly, on with the gloves. Another gate, gravel scrunch under boots.
3. “Left or Right”, “It doesn’t say, follow the man in the gloves”. I lead the way, closely followed by the chatty couple and the busy spaniels. The scrunch changes to a clump across a wooden footbridge to Brackenbottom.
The gurgle of the stream drowned out by the trees beating each other in the wind. Tarmac, hard under foot, the slope steep, not gentle, but easing cold legs into the day.
Farm gate, farm yard, farm gate, hill. Moss covered rocks, pathways worn deep. Boots soundless as the gradient tugs against your pack
4. Pass some stragglers, words of encouragement. One brave soul heading back, words of agreement for his reasons, a silent prayer you will be stronger. Realise that this bit really is steep, the last bit was easy. Daydream of the glory of the finish, brought back to reality as the steep rock clacks against slipping boots. Grip with wet gloves and pull yourself up. Pavement a distant memory. Say good morning to sheep who look quizically at the crazy man. They don’t answer back.
5. Pavement. steep, but pavement. A gate opens onto the Penine way and the high fell begins in earnest. Realise that this bit really is steep, the last bit was easy. Crunching boots under loose scree and man carved steps. Watch as a small stone makes a mini avalanche. Drumbeat of your heart pounding in your chest. foot in front of foot. hand holding where it can. No sound but your booming pulse in your cold ears. Breathing deep gulps, a last pull. Silent boots on wet slabs.
6. thousand steps. The summit of Pen-y-Ghent. Not too bad. I can do this. Selfie and go.
7. Through the gap in the wall. Pick up the pace, its downhill. realise that it is steep, going uphill was easy. every step a potential toboggan ride as boots shimmy for purchase on the loose top. Find a rhythm. Warm legs. daydream that quick fit make shock absorbers for hikers. Brought back to reality as a tripping stone makes me run a few steps to catch up with myself
8. Rain. there’s a cliff face round here, if the rain stops I might see it. It doesn’t. I don’t
9. Rain. there’s a right turn I need to take. If the rain stops, I might see it.
10. Rain. there’s a right turn. …Ah here it is. Steep. Sunshine. Gloves off. Pass a few others. How many is that? 8 on the way up, maybe 10 at the summit, these two, call it 20. Steep. scrunch rhythm.
11. Look back, there was a mountain there a few minutes ago. Cloud curtains the peak. The effort just a memory. Boots quiet on soft grass. Life is good.
12. Life is not good. No-one mentioned another uphill, it’s supposed to be the 3 peaks. Oh, actually that wasn’t too bad. Life is good. Sunshine. Jacket off. Juice and a mars bar.
20. passed by a hobbit
22. Blue flag waving over a mobile home. The thought of a hot cuppa spurs me on and I become aware that I have been walking for 5 miles without a thought. Now the only thought is a brew. simple pleasures. Slap of boots on tarmac.
23. Sugar? yes honey? Do you want sugar in your coffee? What? oh, yes please. Bliss experienced through burnt lips. Introduced to old man in an old car, name in one ear, out the other. lost in a world of hot drink and still boots. Too soon the cup is drained, wave a cheery hand in the general direction of the support team, and away. Careful across the road, eyes drawn towards the immense viaduct. Boots relentless step after step.
24. detour. hillock. hidden from view. zip, ahhh, zip. the coffee was good while it lasted. Hands washed in a deep clear pool. dried on grass, watched by quizical sheep who rudely ignore you when you say hello.
25. Back on the trail. Rain. It won’t last. Boots splash in ever deepening puddles. It may last. Stop, waterproof trousers, check, waterproof jacket, check. Rucksack cover check. Still raining. start walking. Feeling dry and smug. Sunshine. Hot. Really hot. Stop. Jacket off. Rain. Give me strength. Jacket on. Bollocks, I don’t care. Let it rain.
26. Hail. Christ
27. Wind and Hail. Bloody Nora.
28. Steep. Realise that this bit really is steep, the last bit was easy.
29. Ears stung through my hood. When did hail start going horizontal? Ouch. Just Ouch. I don’t care what noise my boots are making. Reality narrows to 18″ wide. Reality is wet and steep. Reality hurts my ears.
30. Thousand steps. Summit. Don’t care. No selfie. Not stopping.
31. Down. Wind straight at you, helps slow your descent. Daydreaming, every cloud has a silver lining, but these have got bloomin’ streamers and party poppers. Back to reality as someone on the way up asks again, “how is it at the top”. “Carnage, but not too bad if you’re a duck with a death wish” A smile softens the impact and leaves them wondering if they heard you correctly. Boots giggling on the downhill scree. Sunshine.
32. Look back, there was a mountain there a few minutes ago. Cloud curtains the peak. The effort just a memory. Boots quiet on soft grass. Life is good.
33. Life is not good, downhill is hard! Realise that last bit was easy. Realise I am relying on cliché, and that the last bit was not easy, actually.
34. Decide a song may lift my spirits. Lustily launch into a good song. Watched by quizical sheep. I am fairly sure that one said something, and it was not very polite. Stop singing.
35. Scrunch under Boot, roadway. Clock under boot, wooden bridge. Crunch and skitter along pebble strewn path to the farm, and the big blue flag. Checkpoint Charlie. Who knew? Nectar comes in pyramid shaped bags!
36. End of the path. Roadway. Cars. Feeling very vulnerable. 2″ clearance. whipped by slipstream. impolite salute. “Ingleborough 2 miles”, over this stile. I’ll take it. Silent boots on springy tundra. Life is good again.
37. Slurp Chug Mud. Clack of gate. Clack of gate, chit chat spoiling my solitude.
38. I stop at Braithwaites wife hole, a vacuous gap in the landscape, and let the gossipers go on ahead.
39. A slight steepening of the land.
40. Crossing limestone pavement majestic Ingleborough towers. At least it should do, but not today. Rain. sigh. trudge. splash.
41. Kendal Mint Cake! woohoo! life is good! what are those ants doing on that hill in front? They aren’t ants, they are people. That’s vertical! shit. Steep. Gingerly approach. take another snort of mint cake. Realise that this bit really is steep, the last bit was easy. Get passed by a Spaniel. Head pounding, not sure if it’s a headache or a loud pulse.
42. It’s a headache. Seriously consider missing the summit and taking the turn to Horton. Take two Ibuprofen and the turn to the summit. Steep. Realise that this bit really is steep, the last bit was easy. regret being a trooper, but carry on anyway, the view will be tremendous. Fog. sigh. crunckle of boots on a lunar landscape as the summit does not loom into view.
43. Thousand steps. Nearly trip over the trig point. Take a selfie to prove to myself I was stupid enough to be here. Hide behind a wall and change my socks. Better than drugs! Life is good. Ok, maybe the sun isn’t shining, but hey, I have summited the three highest peaks in Yorkshire! Rain. Fog and Rain. Give me strength! time to go home.
44. Steep. Don’t care, Its all downhill from here
47. sunshine. smile. say high to some cows. They don’t answer, for once I am grateful. It’s not that they are rude, just that I am sane. Just.
48. Pass another couple. Brings my total to… Not sure, let’s say 180. Daydream about playing darts in a warm, dry pub with a beer. Brought back to reality as the field becomes pock marked with boulders.
49. Squelch. Mud sucking Boots. The Hills don’t want you to leave. Dig deep, last push.
51. A train! Nearly home!
52. Clack of the gate, dull ring in the tracks as you cross the rail. Left to Settle, right to Carlisle, or is it the other way round? Straight on is the finish, eyes on the prize.
53. Thousand steps. Field. Blue Flag. Coffee. Happy.